“Mysteries of the Genome”

Amanda recently presented at Rochester’s Science Café at the Pittsford Barnes and Nobles on the “Mysteries of the genome”.  Click here to learn more about the series.

Mysteries of the genome 11/24/15

Less than 2% of the DNA in human coffeecupgenomes contains conventional genes that code for proteins. Scientists have known for decades that non-protein-coding regions in the genome can have important functions in regulating genes. However, much of the remaining non-coding and non-regulatory DNA consists of sequences frequently referred to as “junk”. This category includes repeated sequences that we know little about but have links to cancer and other diseases. These repetitive genomic regions can go awry causing catastrophic genomic rearrangements and some can even behave like viruses. In this science cafe, we’ll explore the mysterious parts of genomes rich in so-called “junk” DNA. We’ll discuss the controversy over what is considered a “functional genetic element” and how studying genomic differences within and between species helps shed light on a sequence’s functional significance.